Football: Lens want United to dig deep for Foe

HAVING already broken their transfer record in a summer when paying fees for players is likely to be the exception rather than the rule, thanks to Jean-Marc Bosman, Manchester United are in danger of being regarded as a soft touch.

After paying pounds 10.75m to PSV Eindhoven for the Dutch defender, Jaap Stam, United are becoming involved in another bidding saga. The French club, Lens, are asking as much as pounds 8m, according to some reports, for their midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe, who will be part of Cameroon's World Cup squad.

The new French champions have already rejected one offer - believed to be pounds 3m - from United for Foe. Personal terms have already been discussed by both the player and the Premiership club, but the fee is far from settled.

"I have to say at this moment that the two clubs are a long way apart," Martin Edwards, United's chairman, said. It is believed that Lens may be prepared to sell their man for pounds 5m.

United are to ask the Football Association if the Charity Shield against Arsenal at Wembley, scheduled for 9 August, can be brought forward. They are due to play a qualifier for next season's Champions' League just three days later.

Howard Kendall, the Everton manager, was summoned from his holiday by the Goodison Park club's chairman, Peter Johnson, yesterday for talks about his future.

Kendall's job is in danger after a season in which his team only just escaped relegation to the Nationwide League. He has had to sacrifice his holiday in Magaluf, Spain, to attend these talks. A decision on his future is likely today or tomorrow.

Kendall is keen on Bolton's Alan Thompson and Rangers' Alex Cleland as he plans for next season - but his list of transfer targets may not be enough to save his job.

Martin O'Neill, unsettled at Leicester City, would become a favourite for the Everton job if Kendall goes - although the former Northern Ireland international has also been linked with Celtic, and he may consider a Champions' League campaign a more attractive proposition than the task of satisfying expectations at Goodison.

The Nottingham Forest manager, Dave Bassett, who has been linked with the vacancy at Sheffield Wednesday, is likely to be offered an improved contract by the First Division champions in an attempt to keep him at the City Ground.

Wednesday's position is that a new manager is unlikely to be appointed for at least a week. "The chairman [Dave Richards, who is abroad on business] and the board know where they are going and they will make a decision when they are ready," the club's secretary, Graham Mackrell, said yesterday.

Charlton's Welsh international winger, John Robinson, is close to agreeing a pounds 1.5m move to Nottingham Forest - which is expected to go through even if Athletic are promoted to the Premiership after Monday's First Division play-off final.

Robinson is in the Wales squad for the friendlies in Malta on 3 June and Tunisia on 6 June - as is Wolves' 17-year-old defender Ryan Green, who will become the youngest player to be capped by Wales (beating Ryan Giggs' record) if picked.

Green has not yet made his first-team debut for Wolves. The squad also includes Manchester City's Zambian-born midfielder Jim Whitley, whose brother Jeff plays for Northern Ireland.

Aston Villa, who have sold Savo Milosevic to Spain's Real Zaragoza for pounds 3.5m, have abandoned their tentative interest in replacing him with Milan's Dutch international striker, Patrick Kluivert. "The transfer fee and the wages were obscene, in my opinion," John Gregory, Villa's manager, said.

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